I’d Sure Appreciate Your Advice on My New Book Project

You know how some “technogeeks” joyfully create features that are really fun for them, but regular people don’t use? In 2017 I began a project to review the hundreds of customized workshops/retreats I’ve delivered, 15 years of blog posts, and my ongoing reading and research. I was looking to identify the core themes and topics most relevant today. As a “leadergeek” I want to avoid writing a book that’s fun for me but won’t help leaders succeed today.

Since then over 600 readers have helped distill, rank order, and provide rich insight on the topic areas most relevant in these information-overloaded, crazy busy, turbulent times. This book project is now at a critical juncture. I want to ensure whatever book(s) emerge is/are unique, engaging, and as useful as possible. Now I REALLY need your help to make up my mind and whip me and this book project into shape.

I especially look forward to your insight on whether this should be four separate books (and your priority for them), two combined books, or one book.

Key Step #1: What’s Highest Priority and How Many Books?

Please read through the four separate book descriptions below, and rank order your preference. This will take approximately 15 minutes (time very well spent!).

Thanks very much for your time and insights in boosting leadership and culture development — something we’ll all benefit from.

Increasing Communication - click to read

Option 1 – Increasing Communication

Book Introduction/Positioning

For individual leaders to be more personally effective.

  • Communications is the foundation or internal operating system of all leadership. Without it, there is no leadership.
  • Communications is a broad term and a universal problem that’s a symptom carrier of deeper leadership issues.
  • “Communication problems” are often leadership problems. Intentionally or inadvertently, we’re always communicating. What others pick up may not be what we think we’re communicating.
  • Technology has created a lot of confusion between information and communication.

Chapter Outline

Trust Matters: It Will Make or Break Your Leadership

  1. Trust in the Research (studies/evidence linking trust and leadership effectiveness)
  2. At the Leading or Bleeding Edge of Communications
  3. What’s Your Trust Account Balance? (self-assessment quiz)
  4. Building a Foundation of Trust with These Four Cornerstones
  5. Trust Rules: Nine Ways to Strengthen or Destroy Trust
  6. Trust Do It! Practical Steps to Acting Like a Leader

Reduce the Moose: Cultivate Courageous Conversations to Put Key Issues on the Table

  1. What’s With the Moose on the Table?
  2. The Call of the Riled: Mired in the Communication Swamp
  3. Moose Tracks: Signs of a Moose Mess (self-assessment quiz)
  4. That Slinking Feeling: Cowardly Conversations Avoid the Tough Issues
  5. Facing the Bull: How to Have Courageous Conversations That Reduce the Moose

Truth to Empower: Be Open and Direct to Connect and Respect

  1. The Direct Effect: Honesty and Candor Anchor Credible Communications
  2. Silence Kills: Are You Cultivating a Culture of Cowardly Communications?
  3. To a T: Transparency, Truth, and Trust (self-assessment quiz)
  4. Actual and Factual: Using Data to Oil Squeaky Wheels
  5. How “Bring me solutions, not problems” Stifles Communication
  6. Crossing the Line: Brutal Honesty Destroys Trust, Relationships, and Communication
  7. With All Due Direct: How to Foster Openness and Transparency

LOL (Leading Out Loud): You Gotta Walk and Role

  1. You’re the Medium and the Message: They See You Loud and Clear
  2. Moose in the Mirror? Five Signs That You’re Growing Antlers and Choking Communications
  3. A Checklist for Changing Me to Change Them
  4. Modeling the Message: How to Clearly Show What You Mean
  5. Follow Me: Examples of Communicating by Example

True to You: Keep It Real with Authentic Leadership

  1. Hypocrisy and Egotism: Are You Me-Deep in Fooling Yourself?
  2. Strong Leaders Are the Real Deal
  3. It’s an Inside Job: Who You Are Overpowers What You Say
  4. Playing to Your Strengths: Magnify Your Message and Leadership Influence
  5. Your Values are Showing: Keys to Finding Your Voice

Out of the Loop: Faulty Feedback Impairs Everyone’s Learning and Development

  1. Seeing is Believing: Their Perceptions Are Your Reality
  2. Did You Really Say That? How to Check What They Heard You Say
  3. Playing the Blame Game Stifles Feedback and Learning
  4. Feedback’s Huge Impact on Honesty and Integrity
  5. Can We Talk? Effective Communications Are Collaborative Conversations

Listen Up: What We’ve Got Here is a Failure to Communicate

  1. So, Do You Think You’re a Good Listener? (self-assessment quiz)
  2. Building a Culture of Courageous Conversations
  3. Fight Flight: Conflict Avoidance Leads to Backstabbing, Turf Wars, and Stonewalling
  4. Can I Hear You Now? Seven Hearing Aids for Better Listening

Skilling It: Tools and Techniques to Boost Communication Effectiveness

  1. The Influence Index (quiz and planning framework)
  2. Logic on Fire: Use This Inspiring Combination to Ignite and Engage
  3. Tell Me a Story So I Can Feel What You’re Saying
  4. Sharpen Your EQ Edge: Your Soft Skills Produce Hard Results
  5. Yield of Dreams: Make Emotional Connections with Imagery, Aspirations, and Purpose
  6. In The Key of E: How to Engage, Enable, and Energize
  7. War of the Words: Tame the E-Mail Beast
  8. You’ve GOT to Stop Meeting Like This: Break Bad Meeting Disorders That Undermine Communication
  9. Perceive, Receive, Achieve: Harness the Power of Feedback
  10. Shift of Gab: Communication Pathways and Pitfalls

Coaching - click to read

Option 2 – Coaching

Book Introduction/Positioning

For individual leaders to improve coaching of their direct reports as well as their boss, colleagues, and others they may support.

  • Our experience in working with Zenger Folkman to provide The Extraordinary Coach workshop around their FUEL model and using that approach in executive coaching dramatically deepened my understanding of coaching skill development from my previous books and experience.
  • Coaching is a core element of highly effective leadership. Strong coaching skills transform good managers into great leaders.

Good Manager

Great Leader

Pushes for results Inspires outstanding performance
Directs and controls Coaches and influences
Solves problems Guides problem solving and owning solutions
Gives feedback Gives and asks for feedback
Focuses on fixing weaknesses Builds and leverages strengths
Sets high goals and standards Energizes with compelling vision and strategy
Builds strong teamwork Fosters a culture of extraordinary effort
Uses his/her technical expertise Develops strong expertise in others
Reduces turnover and increases engagement Attracts and retains the very best people

Chapter Outline

Coaching Matters: Dramatically Multiply or Minimize Results and Growth

  1. Are You a DIY, Crazy-Busy Manager Choking Growth and Development? (self-assessment quiz)
  2. Grow for It: Strong Leadership and Strong Coaching Are Tightly Linked
  3. Growing or Dying: Succession Planning Enables or Endangers Your Organization’s Future
  4. How Am I Doing? Millennials Want Feedback and Growth
  5. Above and Beyond: Great Coaches Inspire Going the Extra Mile
  6. Coaching in the Key of E: Engaging, Enabling, and Energizing
  7. Magnetic Fields: Great Coaches Attract and Retain Top Talent
  8. Delivering Results: Coaching’s Returns on Investment Are Extraordinary

Coaching Traps: Don’t be Unprepared, Ensnared, and Impaired (self-assessment quiz)

  1. What Do You Expect? Is What You See Stunting or Stimulating Growth? (self-assessment quiz)
  2. Mind the Gap: Coaching Is in the Eye of the Beholder
  3. Wing It Won’t Swing It: Pre-Think So You Don’t Sink
  4. Look Before Your Leap: Jumping to Conclusions Kills Coaching Conversations
  5. You Pay a Steep Price When You Give Advice
  6. The Talk Block: Are You Asking or Telling?
  7. Dangerous Assumptions: What’s Really Going On Here?
  8. Leveraging Leadership Time: Don’t Get Buried in the Tactical Trenches
  9. One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Tailor Your Coaching to the Situation

My Problem or Yours: Who Owns the Monkey?

  1. Majoring in the Minors: Snoopervision and Micromanagement Discourages and Disengages
  2. Defining Your Roles and Goals: Chief Problem Solver or Coaching Others to Solve Problems?
  3. Follow up Frustrations: How’s Your Solution Working Out for Them?
  4. Driver Training: Let the Coachee Steer the Coaching Conversation
  5. Upward Delegation: How Many Monkeys Are on Your Back?
  6. Running in Circles: Reverse the Vicious Cycle of Busyness

Cut through the Coaching Clutter: Here’s What Really Works

  1. Are You Coaching, Mentoring, or Training? (Self-assessment quiz)
  2. Trait Expectations: What You See Stunts or Stimulates Growth
  3. FUEL Better Coaching Conversations with this Four Step Process
  4. Everyone Learns: Powerful Questions Expand Coaching Conversations
  5. Coach Diem: Seize the Moment to Coach on the Fly
  6. Think About It: Preparation Hones the Coaching Edge
  7. Growing Gains: It’s all in Your Follow Through
  8. Situational Coaching: Working with Good, Bad, and High Performers
  9. Showing the Way: Examples of Great Coaching

Career Coaching: Helping Them to Get Up and Grow

  1. Succession Progression: Developing People Boosts Your Promotability
  2. Potential Essential: Do You See an Eagle or a Turkey? (self-assessment quiz)
  3. Personal Development Plans: A Better Way to Grow
  4. Center Your Coach Approach: Pinpoint their Career Sweet Spot
  5. What Do You Care: Why Should You Provide Career Coaching?
  6. Hitting the Right Keys: Career Coaching Checklist

Performance Coaching: Your Approach Raises or Reduces Effectiveness

  1. Rank, Spank, and Yank: Rise Above Lethal Performance Management Practices
  2. What’s the Point: What Are Your Performance Coaching Objectives?
  3. Stop Managing and Start Leading: Make Performance Discussions an Inspiring Event
  4. What Are You Feeding Them? Feed Forward is Often More Effective Than Feedback
  5. The Long and the Short of It: Balancing the Urgent and Important
  6. Are You Wasting Time on Weaknesses?
  7. Perfection Correction: That Final and Fatal Ten Percent

Constructive or Destructive: Feedback Stokes or Stifles Performance

  1. Faulty Feedback: Are You Falling Into These Traps? (self-assessment quiz)
  2. Constructive Criticism is an Oxymoron
  3. Rah, Rah, Slap: Don’t Serve Feedback Sandwiches
  4. Act Like a Leader: Don’t Let Bad Apples Rot Your Team
  5. Feedback to Lead Forward: Effective Feedback Benefits the Giver and Receiver
  6. How to Positively Correct Negative Behavior
  7. Better Listening = Better Feedback
  8. How Are You Doing? How to Get Feedback on Your Coach Approach

Better, Higher, Stronger: Leverage Strengths to Multiply Effectiveness

  1. Why Focusing on Strengths is Two to Three Times More Effective Than Fixing Weaknesses
  2. Muscle Up: Strengths Energize and Weaknesses Enervate
  3. Motivating Change: Play to Their Passion and Strengths
  4. Give Em L: Learning, Leadership, and Leverage
  5. Leverage Points: Using Strengths to Overshadow Weaknesses
  6. Case in Point: Examples of Harnessing the Power of Strengths

(Optional Chapter) Building a Coaching Culture:

  1. Trait Expectations: What Potential Do You See?
  2. Core Values: What Leaders Care About Stunts or Stimulates Growth
  3. Ripple Effect: Senior Leaders’ Practices Nurture or Negate a Coaching Culture
  4. Development Dipping: A Quick Dunk in the Training Tank Won’t Change Much
  5. Soft is Hard: Keys to Developing “Soft” Coaching Skills Across Your Organization
  6. Peer Support: Build Coaching Development Networks
  7. Promotion Devotion: Is Developing People a Vital Leadership Skill?
  8. It’s All in the Follow Through: Move Coaching From Bolt-On Programs to Built-In Processes

Culture Change - click to read

Option 3 – Culture Change

Book Introduction/Positioning

For team, division, or organization leaders to strengthen the broad organizational culture or their local culture.

  • Cultural norms (“the way we do things around here”) has a deep and profound influence on daily behavior.
  • Every group of people has a culture. Most develop by default and not design.
  • Culture is multi-layered. An organization has a macro-culture with many micro-cultures. Local leaders can build an island of excellence even in a sea of mediocrity.
  • Leaders can significantly shift their team or organization’s culture by applying leverage in the right places.
  • Culture is a highly used term but lacks a framework for finding and using those culture leverage points.

Chapter Outline

Culture Rift, Drift, or Shift: The Critical X Factor That Boosts or Blocks Results

  1. Everybody Has One: All Teams and Organizations Have a Culture
  2. Purposeful or Accidental: Is Your Culture by Default or Design?
  3. The Weight of Evidence: Research Shows Culture Powers or Sours Results
  4. Virtuous Circle: Better Leaders Make Better Organizations and Better Organizations Make Better Leaders
  5. Engaged or Enraged: Your Culture Turns People On or Off
  6. Elevated Expectations: All the Culture Talk Has Changed What’s Expected of Leaders
  7. Sinking or Soaring: What’s Your Team/Organizational Culture? (self-assessment quiz)

Setting the Culture Compass: Mapping Your Route through the Swamps and Sinkholes

  1. Weak End: Wobbly Cultures Teeter on Foundations of Weaknesses and Fault Finding
  2. Culture Stepping Stones or Stumbling Blocks
  3. Bolt-On Change Programs or Built-In Culture Processes
  4. Fatal Failure Factors: Why 70% of Culture Change Efforts Die
  5. Culture Compass: A Six Point Navigational Framework to Chart Your Journey

The Snicker Factor: They See You Loud and Clear

  1. Modeling or Throttling: Culture Ripples Out From Your Leadership Team
  2. Exec Check: Seven Leadership Team Failure Factors (self-assessment quiz)
  3. Blah, Blah, Blah: You’ve Got to Sync your Audio and Video
  4. Mind the Gap: Vision, Values, and Purpose Are Often More Rhetoric Than Reality
  5. Growing Concerns: Leadership Skills are Barriers or Boosters to Culture Development

Three Core Questions Defining Your Team or Organization’s Culture

  1. All Eyes on the Prize: Where Are You Going? What Do You Believe? Why Do You Exist?
  2. In Your Dreams: See It to Be It
  3. Foundational Fundamentals: How to Build Your Culture on Solid Values
  4. Beware the Trap of Wordsmithing Hell: Well Lived Trumps Well Written
  5. To Reason Why: A Culture of Purposeful Profits and Profitable Purpose
  6. Pathways and Pitfalls to Bringing Alive Vision, Values, and Purpose

True North: Customer-Centered and Serving the Servers

  1. Bad Shift Wrapping: Brand Management, Training, Hierarchies, Silos and Other Slayers of Service (self-assessment quiz)
  2. Outside In: It All Starts with Customer Perceptions
  3. Use the Three Rings of Perceived Value for Integrated Customer Focus
  4. The Customer Comes Second: Unhappy Servers Don’t Create Happy Customers
  5. Pathways and Pitfalls to a Customer-Centered Culture

Overloaded and Overwhelmed: Prune and Prioritize or Perish

  1. ADD: Are You and Your Team Creating Attention Deficient Disorganization? (self-assessment quiz)
  2. Slow Down to Speed Up: Don’t Let the Urgent Crowd Out the Important
  3. Bleeding or Leading Edge: Seven Deadly Time Traps for Leaders (self-assessment quiz)
  4. Leveraging Leadership Time: Keys to Setting Personal, Team, and Organizational Priorities
  5. Choose ‘Em or Lose’ Em: Pick a Few Key Strategic Imperatives and Stop the Insanity

What’s Measured is Treasured: Rewards and Feedback Illuminate or Infuriate

  1. Measurement Traps: Are You Turning Powerful Tools into Whacking Sticks? (self-assessment quiz)
  2. Feedback Feeds or Starves Peak Performance Cultures
  3. 360 Leadership Assessments: Leveraging Strengths is Twice as Effective as Fixing Weaknesses
  4. What Gets Recognized Gets Repeated: Harness the Power of Recognition, Celebration, and Appreciation.
  5. Stimulate or Frustrate: Recognition Dos and Don’ts That Turn People On or Off

Structure, Processes, and Systems: Limiting or Liberating Performance

  1. Your Weakest Think: How’s Everything Connected? (self-assessment quiz)
  2. Go With the Flow: Form Follow Function
  3. To Centralize or Decentralize: Are You Asking the Right Questions?
  4. Organizational Restructuring: Do it with Them, Not to Them
  5. Lean Leadership: Your Culture Strengthens or Weakens Lean/Six Sigma Tools
  6. Pathways and Pitfalls to Peak Performance

Learning and Development Ignites or Impedes Culture Lift

  1. Don’t Step in the Leadership: Leader Behaviors Flow Downhill
  2. The Great Training Robbery: Why 90% of Development Efforts Fail
  3. Succession Question: Do Your Plans Suck? (self-assessment quiz)
  4. Generation Why: Understanding and Buy-In Are Critical to Culture Change
  5. Time to Skill: Seven Ways to Ensure Learning and Development Pays Off
  6. On the Grow: How to Foster an Agile and Continuous Improvement Culture

Charting the Course: Getting Your Shift Together

  1. A Retreat Helps Your Team Advance: Offsite Strategy Sessions Make or Break Your Plans
  2. Step it Up: Five Critical Steps to Your Desired Culture
  3. Get Growing: Map Your Implementation Pathways to Peak Performance
  4. Change Begins Here: Changing Us to Change Them
  5. From Lip Service to Leadership: Culture Shifting Behaviors and Examples

Leading Change - click to read

Option 4 – Leading Change

Book Introduction/Positioning

To develop leaders at all levels to increase their personal change and adaptability while helping others do the same.

  • You can’t help others change if you’re not dealing effectively with change yourself.
  • We can all embrace change when it’s positive. It’s much tougher to effectively deal with difficult or really tough change (often involves major setbacks or loss).
  • The only thing predictable about change is that it’s unpredictable.
  • People and organizations that don’t innovate and adapt at the speed of change will end up being changed.
  • Leadership is an action, not a position. Organizations need leaders at all levels and in all roles.
  • We don’t choose what changes may hit us but we choose how to respond.
  • How we frame and explain change determines whether we’ll be victims or victors.

Chapter Outline

Take the Lead: Leadership is an Action, Not a Position

  1. The Victimitis Virus: Is This Deadly Infection Contaminating Your Organization? (self-assessment quiz)
  2. Leadership is What We Do, Not the Role We’re In
  3. Leaderful Organizations: Everyone Needs to be a Leader
  4. Stop Playing the Blame Game: Search for What not Who’s the Problem
  5. Owning Up: How to Foster Accountability and Responsibility

Mind Frames: Inspiring Others to Thrive on Change

  1. Are You on The Bleeding or Leading Edge: Change or Be Changed (self-assessment quiz)
  2. Crash and Burn: Why 70% of Change Efforts Fail
  3. Explain the Why: Are You Setting Them Up to Embrace or Resist Change?
  4. Change Management is an Oxymoron Leading to Rigidity and Resistance
  5. The Need for Speed: You Can Do Things Fast and Do Things Right
  6. Endings Create Beginnings: Riding the Change Cycle

Shift Happens: Thriving in Turbulent Times

  1. Is the Rate of External Change Exceeding Your Rate of Internal Change (self-assessment quiz)
  2. Raging River of Constant Change: Navigating Permanent White Water
  3. Built to Change: Today’s Solutions Are Creating Tomorrow’s Problems
  4. To Boldly Grow: Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional

Critical Change Choices: Are You Leading, Following, or Wallowing?

  1. Facing Reality: Are You a Rational Optimist or Unrealistic Pessimist? (self-assessment quiz)
  2. Don’t Let Your Luck Run Amuck: Choice and Chance Determine Our Circumstance
  3. Poison Control: Toxic Emotions Are a Major Health Hazard
  4. Life Accumulates in Our Choice Accounts
  5. The Object of My Perception: What We Get Is What We See
  6. We Don’t Choose What Happens to Us, But We Choose What We Do About It

The New Science of Positive Psychology: Neuropathways to Positivity in a Negative World

  1. Optimistic is Realistic: Our World’s Dramatically and Continuously Improving
  2. Don’t Let the Nattering Nabobs of Negativity Pull Everyone Down
  3. Energy Source: Charging Change with Positive Ions
  4. Inspired and Re-Fired: Leveraging Strengths and Strengthening Optimism
  5. How to Reframe Challenging Changes From Hopeless to Hopeful

Uplift: Your Resilience Track to Bounce Back From a Set Back

  1. Moving Out of Pity City: Leave Blamestorming and Pity Parties Behind
  2. Successful Failures: How the F Word Stunts Our Growth
  3. What’s Your Explanatory Style? (self-assessment quiz)
  4. Don’t P Yourself by Making Bad Events Permanent, Pervasive, and Personal
  5. Hardiness and Resilience: When Giving In Can Give Us a Lift
  6. Your Inside Voice: Retrain How You Explain to Turn Pain to Gain

Upshift: Don’t Let a Bad Boss Keep You Down

  1. Kissing Up While Kicking Down and Other Bad Boss Behavior
  2. Refuse to be Victimized by a Bad Boss
  3. Learn How to Manage Your Manager
  4. Upward Leadership: Seven Tactics to Influence Your Leaders
  5. Stop Whining and Start Leading: Five Ways to Deal With a Bad Boss

Life Blows On: Soaring or Sinking on the Winds of Constant Change

  1. Permanent Impermanence: Nature’s Mighty Law is Change
  2. Time Travel: Current Lessons From Past Changes
  3. Change is Life: If You’re Failing to Grow and Change, Check Your Pulse (self-assessment quiz)
  4. Traps, Tips, and Techniques to Thriving on Change

When the Shift Hits the Plan: Forecasts, Predictions, and Other Gibberish

  1. The Long and Winding Road of Failed Forecasts
  2. Unpredictability and Uncertainty is All That’s Predictable and Certain
  3. Forget Forecasts and Predictions, Build an Agile Culture
  4. Keys to Developing an Organization That’s Built to Change